Saturday, 25 April 2015

For all of us beginner sewing machinists...

This was posted up by a friend and it made me laugh, so I have unashamedly put it up here too. Anyone who has wrestled with an unfathomable sewing machine manual will have some sympathy... you are not alone!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Tulips everywhere!

Well, perhaps the title of this post is a slight exaggeration, but lots of tulips will feature in this post.  The one above is in a pot at the front door, in a single mix and is a delicate pale peach/apricot.  I really enjoy seeing what is in the mix, but the downside is that if you particularly like one of the flowers, it is quite difficult to find out what it is, without doing lots of research.
This is the large tub which featured before but which only had purple and white tulips at that time.  As you can see, other more fiery colours have joined the display now.
 These are hiding at the back, but I thought they deserved a photo by themselves.  The browny/pink one has a very unusual colour combination.
 My favourite bright orange (and scented) Ballerina tulips.  However, there seem to be some reds in there too.  I don't think I mixed them up when I planted them, so perhaps this is an unintentional mix provided by the tulip bulb company.
 Here is dark purple Ronaldo with paler pink Don Quichotte.  I like this combination.
 These are supposed to be perennial bulbs, so once they have finished, I'll save them and replant them.
This Ballerina tulip is in the border and is either one or two years old.
For anyone who has had a surfeit of tulips (which is not possible for me, but perhaps you may not be such a big fan as I am), here is a self-seeded cerinthe which I rescued last autumn (it was growing where the new shed was going to be and I wanted to save it from being squashed).  It has grown well and rewarded me with lovely early flowers.  Bees buzzing around have also been pleased to find it  (its common name is honeywort).

Sunday, 19 April 2015

This week in the garden...

,..this was the view over to the Poplar trees.  A grey, rain laden sky behind, but beautiful sun in front, illuminating the trees and making them look fiery and amazing.
I love looking at these trees and seeing the seasons change their appearance.  You wouldn't think we were in the middle of a city, would you?
 Looking up again, this time into the flowers of an Erythronium 'Pagoda', with its lovely upswept petals.
 Looking up again, into the bluest of blue Spring skies, with Magnolia Susan (who features a lot on my blog in April), with a lilac tree behind.
Another tub of tulips delighting me with their colour.  This is Ronaldo, with Don Quichotte yet to flower. It is so hard to be patient!
 Another view of the blue sky with the Magnolia and Lilac...just because they are pretty!
 More tulips from the single mix.  There are a couple of other types in the mix, but they aren't quite in flower.
 Here is something I am really excited about.  This is a Patio Peony, specially designed for pots, called 'Athens' and should have pink flowers.  I bought it earlier in the year and have watched it gradually start to grow, but didn't really expect anything except leaves this year.  As you can see, there are buds - I think there are four.
The plant has lovely glossy green leaves, and the promise of a beautiful flower. I have also got 'Madrid', a white flowered peony, which is just starting to unfurl its leaves, so has a way to go yet. Patience, patience!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Spring Colours

My first tulips of this year are flowering - these are Single Early.  I have lots more in bud and as I am just a little obsessed with them, I am sure there will be many more photos to come.  The interesting thing is that these first two echo some of  the other colours in the garden at the moment...
 ...such as the fuchsia/magenta pink of these primulas...
 ...and the delicate pale yellow of the primroses.
 Then there is the fuchsia and purple Lathyrus Vernus, grown in a pot.
The anemone blanda from last year... (still in their original posts - shame on me for not planting them out!)
 ...echoing the pretty graduated blue and purple of the grape hyacinth - muscari latifolium.
Finally, a hellebore, with a primrose behind it and another Lathyrus which I planted a couple of days ago, having had to remove more montbretia.  It looks like a little snapshot of Spring.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Happy Easter weekend

I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend.  The sun is out today and it is lovely!  My magnolia Stellata is flowering and enjoying the sunshine.
 I made some chocolate butterfly cakes...
 ...and picked some primroses and primulas for the seasonal tree table.
 Lots of eggs were added to the display.  I also decided that when the glass vases weren't holding little posies, they looked a bit bare, so made some polymer flowers in pastel colours to sit on them.  I had seen some ceramic flowers made into rings and brooches at the vintage fairs and thought I could do something like that.
I was very pleased with how they turned out.  I used a blend of colours and my flower moulds, and then dusted some mica powder in the middles to add a little shine.
 Apologies for the photo - it just wasn't bright enough when I took it, so it is rather glaring, thanks to the flash.
Even the close up is a bit glaring - but gives you the idea! I have been in the garden today, rescuing some much loved astrantia plants from some rather too vigorous crocosmia/montbretia (which has needed doing for ages!) and hope that the sun continues to shine as there is always so much to do at this time of year.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Spring is here!

 Yes, Spring is here at last, although from the weather today, it is a bit difficult to tell.  Gales, hail, grey skies, but then a flash of blue to lift the spirits.
 I bought this little camellia (no name, but it is a japonica variety) on a recent trip to The Range (the kind of shop which sells lots of different things and you never quite know what you may find).  We went to buy plastic storage boxes for our ever increasing stash of gemstones/beads and of course, came out with other bits and pieces too.  There is a good craft section there and we always buy something when we visit!
 I couldn't resist the camellia with its fat flower buds.
 Now they have opened, I am really pleased I bought it - the flowers look a bit like roses.
 These two vibrant pink primulas were also purchased - the flowers look a bit weatherbeaten, but they were only 74p each, so how could I resist?  I'll divide them in a while and then they'll go in the garden.
 Of course, I don't think old fashioned and perfect primroses can be bettered as the harbingers of Spring. Beautiful sunny colours.
The last of my crocuses to flower are Jeanne D'Arc, with a delicate pastel purple stem.  Now there are magnolias to come and then tulips - I'm really looking forward to seeing them.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Adventures involving Blue and White

After we went to the Vintage fair at Kelham Hall, we called in at Newark Antiques Centre, a former congregational church, but now, full to the brim with antiques and collectables.  I wandered round and was drawn to some blue and white material, which I bought (of course).  I was also drawn to a blue and white muffin dish, consisting of a plate and lid in the deepest cobalt blue with white blossom on it.  I stood and looked at it for a while and then asked to look at it in greater detail.  In retrospect, this was a mistake, because once I held it, I knew I would like to buy it.  Anyway, I checked it over and looked for a mark - Wood and Sons, Prunus.  I then talked myself right out of buying it!  What would we do with it, where would we put it?  I reluctantly put it back and talked to the lady at the counter who said she would have bought it.  However, I bought the material and left the dish there.
Of course, the internet helped a lot with finding out about the pattern. It was probably made between 1890 and 1920, by Wood and Sons and the designer was Frederick Rhead.  I discovered that it was a pattern mainly used for vases, dressing table items and not much was made as dinner services.  My original thought was that I could look out for it and buy some plates to actually use.
Well, you know what it is like.  I thought about it and thought about it and eventually, Chris said we could go back and I could get it (I think he just wanted me to stop going on about it!).  I rang up and reserved it and we went back the next day.  (I'm sure you knew that is what would happen, didn't you?!)
 Here it is - I just love it and it make me smile when I go past it.  At the moment, it is on the table with the seasonal tree, but whether that will be its home, I'm not sure.
I'm now wondering whether I can make a polymer clay flower cane based on this design...now there's yet another challenge!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Vintage Fair at Kelham Hall

We headed to Kelham Hall last Saturday, to go to the Big Vintage festival.  We were looking forward to it, but at the same time, weren't quite sure what to expect.
Kelham Hall is an impressive place, although somewhat of a mish-mash of styles.  The main building is Victorian Gothic, but there is also a large chapel, called The Dome, which was built in the 1920s by the monks who owned it at the time.
As we went in, we could only see one room and were disappointed, but then we found that there were lots more stalls in the Dome as well, so we were relieved about that. The signage could have benefited from being more obvious!
Before I tell you what I bought, I did spend a lot of time looking upwards. The ceilings were amazing.
 Yes, it's over the top, but you have got to love the Victorian Pugin-esque decoration!
 Flashes of gold abounded and there were very few unpainted areas.
 It could be a Cathedral.
 There were amazing carvings on the many pillars too.  We would love to go back and have a proper guided tour so that's something to add to the list.
 So, what did I buy?  Well, as you know, I do enjoy buying material and yes, that's what I bought this time.  The daisy pattern material reminded me of some pottery bowls we have at home and was so cheerful that it just had to be purchased.  Then there was an embroidered dressing table set.  I immediately thought that I could cut off the embroidery (said very quietly, as it could be thought to be sacrilegious!)and applique it to something else, like bunting.
 I love the butterfly motifs and I would like to be able to see them, rather than have them languishing in a drawer somewhere! It is very careful embroidery.
This mad green patterned material and I have met before, as I saw it at a previous vintage fair I went to and deliberated about it, before putting it back.  So, when I saw it again, I thought, it's fate - I am meant to have it!  It is a cotton and I think there is enough to make a sleeveless summery top.  Yet another thing to add to my 'It would be nice to make that...' list!  Unfortunately, there are no tea and cake photos as we didn't have any - the tea room was far too busy and the bar just didn't have the right ambiance!  I also paid a deposit on a 1950s style dress with a full skirt in a pink rose print which was lovely, but just a little big around the waist.  The lady from Unique Frocks is going to alter it for me, so I am looking forward to getting that in a few weeks' time.
I haven't talked about the blue materials which can be seen in the top photo, but they came from the Newark Antiques Centre which we visited before heading home and there is a story to be told there, but that is for another post...